Story last updated at 12/30/2009 - 12:13 pm
When was the last time you visited the Cooperative Extension Service University of Alaska Fairbanks (CES UAF) Web site? Perhaps it's been a while, or perhaps you've never taken the time to surf the site and take stock of all the treasures available in hard copy, electronic media, and on the Internet.
Every year the CES Communications Department provides a "Publications & Media" catalog listing research-based publications in the major program areas: Agriculture & Horticulture; Community Resource & Economic Development; Energy Education & Housing; and Health, Home & Family Development. Some publications are free and may be downloaded from the Web site.
Those with a small fee can be ordered using the online form (http://www.uaf.edu/ces/pubs), calling the toll free number (877-520-5211), or contacting the local district office.
Let's take a look at the treasure trove of information available through the Health, Home & Family Development (★★FD) program. For instance, there are a number of publications listed in the "Food, Nutrition and Health" category. Here, you will find information on storing vegetables and fruits, freezing vegetables, making fruit leather, making jerky, facts on botulism, and a variety of recipes including sourdough, rhubarb, zucchini, and wild berries. Several vegetable factsheets provide nutrition and health guidelines (such as vitamin, mineral, and fiber content), harvesting, storage, and preparation with sample recipes included. Selected vegetables include beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, squash, herbs, and chard. All these factsheets are free!
In my view, the most exciting new developments are the educational modules made possible through a USDA grant. Titled "Preserving Alaska's Bounty," the Web-based modules and DVDs were created and developed as a team effort involving ★★FD faculty, program assistants, and the communications staff. The series focuses on home preservation of Alaska native foods. Client feedback on the media, gathered from an online satisfaction survey, has been very positive.
The primary purpose for developing the modules was to provide research-based information for rural communities and areas that do not have Extension faculty members on-site. The Web modules are developed in a sequential manner so that each step is clearly defined and explained. There are hyperlinks within the modules that link the user to additional information. Topics are grouped into three main categories: Canning Basics, Canning Products & Methods (i.e., canning fish, meat, jams/jellies), and Meat Products & Methods (i.e., sausage, jerky). These free modules can be found at http://www.uaf.edu/ces/preservingalaskasbounty/index.html.
For those who learn best by watching demonstrations, the DVDs bring the Extension experts into your home. Health, Home & Family Development program area faculty from all seven Alaska districts serve as the educators. To date, seven DVDs have been released on the following topics: Canning Basics, Canning Meat and Fish in Jars, Canning Meat and Fish in Cans, Pickling, Drying Foods, Sausage and Jerky, and the just-released, Jams and Jellies. More titles will be available in the very near future, including the following: Root Cellars, Fireweed, Processing Reindeer (game meats), and Harvesting Alaska Seaweeds. The DVDs are available at a nominal fee of $5.
The native Alaska foods preservation series is the culmination of a five-year process. It is a topic that figures into all the ★★FD program areas: nutrition, food budgeting, eating locally, and energy conservation. Recently, the CES ★★FD team received recognition from the National Extension Honorary Society of Epsilon Sigma Phi for their work, "A Multimedia Approach to Preserving Alaska's Bounty."
In the new year, take a moment to visit the Cooperative Extension Service UAF Web site and discover all the treasures that await you. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or (907) 796-6221.
Sonja Koukel, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Health, Home & Family Development Program for the Cooperative Extension Service UAF Juneau District. Reach her at email@example.com or (907) 796-6221.